A Tampon Exists For Men, But Some Argue It’s Not Enough

A Finnish brand has developed the world’s first ‘tampon for men’ – but trans activists question if this is the right approach.
Yulia Reznikov via Getty Images

For trans men and gender-diverse people, menstruation can exacerbate gender dysphoria – which describes the “sense of unease a person may have because of a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity”.

Research has shown that 93% of trans men have experienced gender dysphoria related to menstruation. And, according to the NHS, if felt intensely, this can have adverse impacts on mental health, causing anxiety and depression.

To try and alleviate the distress trans men might feel in relation to menstruation, Finnish brand Vuokkoset developed the world’s first ‘Tampon for Men’.

Activists say this approach to trans healthcare is falling short.

Why make a tampon for men?

Vuokkoset says the initiative aims to spark a conversation about the gendered nature of menstrual care and the inclusivity of the health and wellness industry.

DEI consultant and LGBTQ+ specialist Dakota Robin, who is trans and working with the brand, said: “When I was young, menstruation felt not only strange but somehow wrong. Our culture does not really acknowledge the diversity of menstruating individuals.”

How have people responded to the product?

Some feel gender neutrality could be a better path than overtly labelling menstrual products as gendered – like Kelvin Sparks, the writer of Trans Sex: A Guide for Adults.

Sparks explained that following a hysterectomy, he bought pads to help with bleeding, and buying female-marketed pads just meant the cashier assumed he was buying them for his cis-girlfriend.

“Male-targeted pads would have outed me as trans to the cashier. To me, that’s way more of a problem and has way more of an impact on my comfort and safety, and it seems to be one the campaign completely ignored or was unaware of,” he explained.

It’s worth noting that a gender-neutral tampon product is also being considered by Vuokkoset.

Jude Guaitamacchi, trans masculine, non-binary inclusion specialist and campaigner, said of the tampon for men: “I see there’s positive intention here, but for me, de-gendering menstrual products would make tampons safer for trans+ people.

“It would make everyone buying them feel included. I personally don’t think the solution is to add another binary gender to any branding as it could ‘out’ trans+ [people] in public spaces and potentially put them at risk,” they added.

Sparks said the campaign feels like it’s aimed at cis people who want to feel like allies rather than at trans people. He suggested the brand hadn’t particularly thought about the practicalities of what it’s like to be a man who has periods.

“To my knowledge, Vuokkoset and its parent company Delipap Oy are not trans-led or trans-owned, so the campaign to me feels like cis people profiting from talking to other cis people about trans people,” he said.

But not everyone agrees. Dakota Robin wrote in an impassioned Instagram post, following a largely transphobic backlash against the product, that “we have people who need these products whether you like it or not”.

According to Pink News, one person described the tampon as “revolutionary” and said it helped them feel “seen”.

Robin added that as a trans man, he no longer has periods, but it’s still important to him to lend his support.

“Why am I participating in the campaign if I don’t have periods?” he said. “I would have needed products on several occasions during my life and I still know how it feels when you are not seen or heard and your needs are not taken seriously.

“We transgender people and our needs must be seen and heard in society. We deserve it and that’s a basic human right that we should have but we don’t have it.”